Philippines' COVID-19 death toll jumps to 54, cases at 803

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 27) — Nine more Filipinos have died from the coronavirus disease in the country, bringing the nationwide death toll to 54, the Department of Health reported Friday.

In its 4:00 p.m. bulletin, the DOH confirmed 96 new cases of the viral disease. The country now has a total of 803 cases.

Three more patients have recovered from COVID-19, for a total of 31 recoveries.

Patients die before getting test results

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has said cases are bound to increase as the government expands its testing efforts. Five government laboratories can now test COVID-19 samples.

Previously, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine served as the only confirmatory testing laboratory for COVID-19 in the Philippines, resulting in a backlog.

Majority of the new fatalities died before their test results came out. Among them are a 75-year-old man from Quezon City, who died on March 19 but was confirmed positive for COVID-19 only six days later.

A 71-year-old woman, also from Quezon City, and an 83-year-old woman from Cavite province both passed away on March 17, but their families got their test results five days later.

Another patient, a 57-year-old man from Manila, died on March 18, and was confirmed to have had COVID-19 four days later, while a 62-year-old man from Manila died March 22, with his test results coming out the next day.

It's not clear how their remains were handled, since authorities mandate bodies of COVID-19 patients to be cremated within 12 hours from the time of death.

Other COVID-19 patients who have died include a 63-year-old man and a 72-year-old woman from Muntinlupa City, a 74-year-old man from Manila, and a 67-year-old woman from Quezon City.

The three patients who have recovered from COVID-19 are all from Metro Manila. They are a 48-year-old man from Taguig City, and two men from Pasig City, aged 25 and 51.

Global cases

Worldwide, COVID-19 has killed more than 24,000 people, mostly in Italy, although the outbreak began in Wuhan, China in December last year. Over 500,000 people have been infected, according to the Johns Hopkins University's COVID-19 global tracker.

Eight in ten, or around 80 percent, of infected patients experience "mild illness" and eventually recover from COVID-19, according to the World Health Organization. Some 15 percent experience severe illness while 5 percent were critically ill, the WHO said.

To prevent the spread of the virus, authorities are urging people to practice regular hand washing, cover their mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and avoid close contact with those who exhibit virus symptoms.